Regardless of where you go, there are Side x Sides hard at work or play. What started years ago as simple utility vehicles, such as Kawasaki’s Mule, was quickly adapted by sportsman as Polaris introduced the Ranger, and then Yamaha jumped on the sport aspect with their Rhino. Today there are models of every size and for every imaginable use. For manufacturers already in the powersports business, it made sense to introduce another product line for their dealers and customers.
EMP only recently entered the Snow plow building business, but they’re off to a great start! They begin by using tough, American made steel and build the entire plow and hardware at their Cleveland, Ohio plant. At ¼” thick, the mounting structure and frame they use is almost twice as thick as many other plows.
Early Side x Sides were built strictly for utility use, with all the handling characteristics of a tractor. That caught the attention of Polaris which quietly went into action. With an engineering staff loaded full of Northern Minnesota hunters, it’s no wonder the Rangers are at home in the woods; they should practically be issued a hunting license. Imagine your best dog, best shotgun, best pickup, and best hunting camp all rolled into one, and you’ve got the Polaris Ranger XP 800.
When one of the design parameters is that the vehicle must be able to carry a round bale almost as big as the vehicle itself, you know it’s going to be one tough, hard working UTV. Arctic Cat’s new Prowler HDX 700 can carry the bale, 3 passengers, and with a dump box seemingly half as big as a football field, practically the whole barn! We spent several days and 400 miles picking our way through the rocks, canyons, and desert to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and back, and the HDX 700 was as reliable as a trusty dog or sure footed horse.
When it was introduced 2 years ago, the Polaris Sportsman XP 850 set a new standard for big bore utility ATVs that has yet to be matched. In our experience logging over a thousand odd trail miles, reliability has been perfect, and it has never let us down. The engine runs smooth, quiet, and crisp thanks to electronic fuel injection. We’re especially happy to report maintenance tasks are a breeze due to a spin off oil filter, a cartridge type air filter, and a handy, easy access dipstick (Take note Suzuki).
Polaris engineers came up with a simple solution for riders who love the XP 850’s excellent features, but may feel intimidated with an 850cc engine – offer the same features and chassis with a 550cc engine! As a smaller brother to the XP 850, the Sportsman XP 550 shares an almost identical chassis but with a liquid cooled, single cylinder, EFI equipped engine mated to a carefree, CVT transmission. The engine runs crisp and smooth, and the XP550 gets a high performance clutch with a roller system for a very noticeable snap off the bottom.
After more than 20 years of service, the Mule name has come to define a whole category of hardworking utility vehicles. For 2010, there’s an entirely new take on this beast of burden: The Mule 610 4x4 XC appears to have been crossbred with Kawasaki’s Teryx RUV. Aggressive 26 inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 radial tires mounted on 12-inch wheels give it newfound off-road ability—and a slew of upgrades designed to complement its suddenly more aggressive nature infuse the new Mule XC with something it’s never really been known for: This Mule is cool.
For those of us that live in a northern climate, the first snowfall is often a wondrous event. School children leap from their desks to gather at the windows, amazed at the fluffy, giant flakes that drift to the ground, slowly turning everything pristine, pillow soft, and white. Invariably, a few radio stations can’t resist playing “White Christmas” for a sentimental caller or two, and for one quiet afternoon, it’s Americana, as captured by a Norman Rockwell painting.
As UTV manufacturers continue the process of refining and evolving their product lines, the mid-size segment of this market especially keeps getting better and better. Among the major players in the 4x4 mid-size segments are the Mule 610, the Ranger 400, the Club Car XRT950 and the new Husqvarna 4414. Husky's entry is the poster child for the philosophy of "less is more", but it offers all the goodies that mainstream UTV owners desire, such as four-wheel independent suspension, “shift-on-the-fly” four-wheel drive, sealed CVT, tilt-bed and a rugged brush guard.
For 2010, Polaris has refined and polished almost every aspect of its 6x6. Polaris says that it appeals to farmers, outdoorsmen, land owners, contractors and municipalities that need massive storage capacity with unmatched terrain capabilities. We couldn’t agree more. Except to add that as UTV standards go, the six-wheeled beast is thunderously quick, both from a standstill and at speed. The 6x6 retains all of the key components that are so convincing to these buyers, but with significant improvements. “Just doing what the customer asks,” Polaris says.